ILNews

Court clarifies decision on jury instructions

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The Indiana Court of Appeals granted the state’s request for rehearing on a case in which the judges found the trial court erred in not giving a defendant’s tendered jury instruction, but that the error was harmless. The state contended that two cases dictated that there was no error by the court.

A panel of the Court of Appeals affirmed Joseph Matheny’s conviction of Class D felony auto theft, but in doing so, concluded the trial court erred in refusing his tendered jury instruction regarding the jury’s duty to conform the evidence to the presumption that a defendant is innocent. But when looking at the totality of the circumstances, the judges originally held the error was harmless.

On rehearing in Joseph Matheny v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1207-CR-347, the state argued that the COA’s previous ruling conflicts with Santiago v. State and Albores v. State, which were decided by the appellate court in March and April 2013, respectively. In those decisions, the judges found that the concept that the jury should attempt to fit the evidence to the presumption that the accused is innocent was adequately covered by the trial court’s instructions. Those decisions also distinguished Lee v. State, 964 N.E.2d 859 (Ind. Ct. App. 2012), in which jury instructions were not as detailed and the jury was not instructed that the presumption of innocence prevails throughout trial.

“As in Lee, the jury in this case was not instructed that the presumption of innocence prevails throughout the trial. Accordingly, we reach a different conclusion than Santiago and Albores because the instructions that the trial court gave the jury did not adequately convey the substance of Matheny’s tendered instruction,” Judge Terry Crone wrote Monday.

“In this case, such an instruction was requested, refused, and not adequately covered by the given instructions, and therefore the trial court abused its discretion.”

The appellate panel also denied the state’s claim that it used a “magic words” approach in its original decision and failed to consider the entirety of the jury instructions given at trial. Crone wrote that the state’s argument simply ignores the fact that the instructions in Matheny were different from those given in Santiago and Albores.

 

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  • Constitution
    Indiana Constitution: Article 1, Section 19. In all criminal cases whatever, the jury shall have the right to determine the law and the facts.

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  1. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  2. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  3. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  4. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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